Jasper is mentioned several times in the Bible, often in descriptions of Heavenly scenes involving gemstones. But what exactly does the Bible say about what color jasper is? If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The Bible does not explicitly state what color jasper is.
However, based on contextual clues, many believe it is likely a deep green color.
In this comprehensive article, we’ll dive into every mention of jasper in the Bible and analyze what these passages seem to imply about its color. We’ll look at the original Greek and Hebrew words, other gemstones jasper is grouped with, and more to shed light on this question.
The Use of Jasper in Revelations
Jasper in the Foundation Stones of Heavenly Jerusalem
The book of Revelation in the Bible contains symbolic descriptions of heaven and the New Jerusalem. In Revelation 21, the apostle John describes the foundation stones of the wall of the heavenly city as being adorned with precious gems, including jasper (Revelation 21:19).
This indicates that jasper was considered a precious stone of great beauty and value.
The jasper foundation stones likely represent the glory, splendor, and perfection of God’s heavenly kingdom. Jasper’s greenish hue may symbolize life, growth, and endurance. The clarity and brilliance of the jasper gemstones points to the radiance of heaven and the holy presence of God.
Just as jasper was used in ornate places on earth, it decorates the very foundations of the eternal city built by God.
The Jasper Walls of Heavenly Jerusalem
The book of Revelation further describes the radiance of the New Jerusalem’s walls and gates as “like jasper” (Revelation 21:11,18). The jasper walls indicate heaven’s splendor, purity, and durability. The gem-like transparency speaks of the city’s openness without anything to hide.
Jasper was considered more precious than gold in ancient biblical times (Revelation 21:18). As an ornamental stone, its multi-colored patterns added majestic beauty. The jasper walls convey the glory and artistry of heaven’s design.
The stone’s impenetrable strength points to the security of God’s dwelling place.
Jasper in the Old Testament
Ezekiel’s Vision of God
In the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet Ezekiel describes an incredible vision he had of God on His throne (Ezekiel 1:26-28). Ezekiel compares the brightness and beauty of God’s appearance to brightly colored gemstones, including jasper.
He states that seated above the “expanse” over God’s head was something that “had the appearance of jasper and carnelian.” This symbolizes God’s glory, brilliance, and holiness.
The reference to jasper in Ezekiel’s vision connects back to the breastpiece worn by the High Priest in the tabernacle. The twelve gems, including jasper, on the priest’s breastpiece were meant to symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel.
So in comparing God to jasper, Ezekiel ties God’s radiance to the tribes of Israel through the symbolic stones.
The Breastpiece Stones of the High Priest
In Exodus 28, God instructs Moses to create special garments for Aaron, the High Priest of Israel. This vestment included the ephod, an apron-like garment that had two onyx gemstones on the shoulder pieces engraved with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel (Exodus 28:9-12).
Attached to the front of the ephod was a breastpiece embroidered with gold that contained 12 precious stones – including jasper – arranged in four rows (Exodus 28:15-21).
It’s significant that jasper was included in the High Priest’s breastpiece along with stones like emerald, onyx, and sardius. These brilliant gems emphasized the importance of the High Priest’s role as Israel’s representative before God.
The 12 stones corresponded to the 12 tribes, symbolizing the High Priest bearing the tribes close to his heart as he ministered before God.
You can read more details about jasper in biblical symbolism at this reference site.
The Hebrew and Greek Words Behind ‘Jasper’
The word “jasper” appears several times in the Bible, primarily in references to precious gemstones. But what exactly does this term refer to?
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for jasper is yashpheh. This word is thought to derive from a root word meaning “to be smooth”, which could refer to the polished sheen of jasper gemstones.
In the New Testament, the Greek word used for jasper is iaspis. This is likely connected to the Hebrew yashpheh. So while the languages differ, they ultimately refer back to the same original idea – a smooth, decorative stone.
Most Bible scholars agree that the “jasper” gemstones of biblical times were likely a variety of quartz, such as red jasper or green jasper. The vibrant red and green colors would have made them precious and valuable in ancient days.
One intriguing theory is that the term “jasper” may have actually referred to a number of different semi-precious gemstones, including opal, agate, and carnelian. So the biblical writers may have used it as a general term for polished and lustrous decorative stones.
Whatever the exact mineral, it’s clear the biblical authors used “jasper” to convey beauty, brilliance, and precious value. The gleaming stones reflected divine light and glory.
For instance, in Revelation 21, the walls of the New Jerusalem contain jasper, shining with the radiance of God’s presence. So while we may not know the precise mineral composition, the rich symbolism comes through – jasper conveys the magnificence of God’s kingdom.
What Other Gemstones is Jasper Grouped With?
Jasper is often grouped with other quartz gemstones that have a similar appearance and properties. Some of the most common gemstones that jasper is associated with include:
Agate is very closely related to jasper and the two are often confused. Both agate and jasper are microcrystalline varieties of quartz that form through silica precipitation. The main difference is that agate has distinctive banding, while jasper typically does not.
However, banded jasper and jasper-like agate are common. Agate also tends to be more translucent than most jasper.
Chalcedony is an umbrella term used for various microcrystalline quartz gemstones like agate, jasper, onyx, and carnelian. So while not all chalcedony is jasper, all jasper is considered a type of chalcedony due to its cryptocrstalline structure.
Bloodstone is a green variety of jasper that contains red spots caused by hematite inclusions. The red “blood” spots are what give this stone its name. Bloodstone is highly prized in crystal healing circles and was also popular in medieval times.
Onyx is a banded variety of chalcedony, which puts it in the same gemstone family as jasper. Black onyx in particular can resemble black jasper. However, onyx has a more vitreous luster compared to the dull luster of most jasper.
While they may share some similarities, each of these gemstones has its own unique set of properties. But their common quartz composition and microcrystalline structure means they are often discussed together in gemological contexts.
The Significance and Symbolism of Jasper
Jasper is mentioned several times in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments. It is described as a precious and beautiful stone, often used in descriptions of God’s majesty and glory. Here is an overview of the significance and symbolism of jasper in the Bible:
Significance in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament, jasper is included in the high priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28:20) as one of the twelve gemstone representing the twelve tribes of Israel. This indicates jasper’s association with tribal identity and spiritual connection.
Jasper is also referenced in descriptions of God’s majesty, such as in Ezekiel’s vision of God’s throne, which says “the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
And when I saw it, I fell on my face…” (Ezekiel 1:28). The radiance and glory of God’s throne are compared to jasper, highlighting its brilliance and splendor.
Significance in the Book of Revelation
The color and brilliance of jasper are especially emphasized in the Book of Revelation’s descriptions of the New Jerusalem. Revelation 4:3 states, “And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance.”
Later, Revelation 21:11 describes the New Jerusalem shining “with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” And the wall around the city “was constructed of jasper” (Revelation 21:18).
So jasper symbolizes God’s glory as well as the beauty and radiance of the New Jerusalem.
Based on its biblical descriptions and contexts, jasper has come to symbolize several spiritual concepts:
- Glory, splendor, and majesty of God
- Radiance, brilliance, and clarity
- Beauty, preciousness, and value
- Spiritual foundation and connection
- Tribal identity and belonging
- Heaven, paradise, and the New Jerusalem
Jasper in Christianity
For Christians, jasper is a stone that represents Jesus Christ and living by His example. The clear crystal jasper stone evokes Christ’s purity and light. Jasper also symbolizes the courage, strength, and dedication of the apostles and saints who spread Christianity in its early days.
As a protective stone, jasper reminds Christians of God’s power and presence in times of trouble or persecution.
Some also believe jasper stimulates conscientious living for Christians, supporting them in making righteous choices, confessing sins, and focusing on spiritual perfection in anticipation of the New Jerusalem to come.
So in summary, while the Bible does not outright state what color jasper is, analysis of the contexts it’s used in points to a deep green hue, likely because of its association with nature, life, and the glory of God’s creation.